Mercury was Ford’s mid-line model answer

By: Bruce Kunz

October 22nd, 2017

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Old Car Column


My son once called to ask me when Ford Motor Company took over the Mercury company (You’ll notice I did not capitalize “company”).

Where did I fail? Jeff apparently thought, at some point in early automotive

history, Henry Ford purchased the Mercury line from its original founder — who I suppose would be Mr. Mercury?!?! I guess I didn’t follow my own

mantra and take a kid to a car show in his formative years. I informed Jeff, now 45 years young and a supervisor at Triple A, the first Mercury was a 1939 model and was a newly created marque, the brainchild of then company president Edsel Ford — the `only child of Henry and Clara Ford.

Prior to the introduction of the Mercury line in 1938, Ford Motor Company consisted of but two lines, the entry level Fords and the upscale, luxury Lincoln models. Edsel conceived the mid-line Mercury as an answer to GM and Chrysler, who had multiple marques from low to high dollar. But, in fact, Mercurys, for the most part, were predominantly Fords with facelifts, or to use a common industry term, “rebadged” models.

With styling inspired by the Lincoln Zephyr and a standard Ford V-8 slightly bored out to produce 95 horsepower as compared to 60 horsepower for the standard Ford models. Mercu

rys were priced several hundred dollars higher than similar Ford models and several hundred below Lincoln. When Edsel Ford launched the Mercury brand, he clearly had Oldsmobile, Buick, Dodge and Chrysler in his gun sights.

Had Jeff posed the same question about Ford’s Lincoln brand, it would have

made more sense, as Henry Ford bought the Lincoln Motor Company from founders Henry Leland and son Wilfred in Feb. 1922, for $8 million.

Not looking for handouts

We are soliciting sponsorships for the 2018 season of Take A Kid To A Car Show- StL … our ninth year of this program and guaranteed to be the biggest and best yet.

We are planning to attend the annual SEMA trade show in Las Vegas the first wee

k of November. This has become an annual tradition for TKCS participating volunteers and I since starting back in 2010.

If you would like to donate to the cause (any amount you choose would be greatly appreciated), your generosity will be recognized in the form of a listing on our “personal sponsors” section of the table decal (or the 6’ pull-up banner), which will be seen by the thousands who will visit our TKCS-StL booth at the 20 local shows and cruises for the 2018 season.

Dollar amounts will not be posted, however, donations will be grouped in
three categories — Gold, Silver and Bronze — at yet-to-be-determined break points.

Clubs will be offered a first-time-ever 50 percent off the regular sponsors’ rate of $250 … $125 for the 2018 season, which is April through October (in most cases, that amounts to less than $5 per member). Club listings will include club logo. Club discount offer expires Oct. 27.

Make your checks payable to “The FIN MAN” and mail them to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, 900 N. Tucker Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63101.

Thanks from myself and our volunteer staff for your consideration to help TKCS-StL reach its goal to attend SEMA 2017.

Bruce Kunz, a.k.a. “THE FIN MAN,” is a member of the Society of Automobile Historians. If you love old cars and care about kids, visit